Most helpful critical review
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
highly interesting, but too short
on June 7, 2003
Los Angeles County Department of Coroner: 19000 cases a year, 10 percent of these cases homicides. 20 autopsies per day. 180 embloyees. The second largest department of coroner in the USA and the only one world wide with a gift shop (aptly named Skeletons in the Closet).
This book introduces you to the tasks, history and famous cases of LA department of coroner. DEATH IN PARADISE opens with an overview of the coroner's tasks and a brief history of the department, which both were interesting for me. The next chapter concerns early coroner cases from the days, when the west was wild (You think today's crime rates are extremely high? Well, you'll be surprised to read that in 1850, when California joined the union, Los Angeles with its population of about 4000, had one homicide per day!!!)
The early coroner cases chapter is followed by the most interesting part of the whole book, a lengthy account of coroner's cases involving the rich and famous, from suicides of now long forgotten movie stars of the silent film era to celebrity death of today. Did you know that in 1932 successful actress Peg ENTWISTLE jumped to her death from the big "H" in the famous HOLLYWOOD sign (which read HOLLYWOODLAND by then)? Lots and lots of celebrity deaths are covered: the shooting of mobster Bugsy SIEGEL. The assassination of presidential candidate Robert KENNEDY in 1968. An escalating domestic violence incident, which cost the live of movie star Lana TURNER`s lover Johnny STOMPANATO, when TURNER`s teenage daughter stabbed him. The demise of folk legend Janis JOPLIN due to an overdose. Marilyn MONROE's suicide. The terrifying slaughter of the "black dahlia", later the subject of a bestselling novel (this part of the book is especially gruesome). The death of journalist Ruben SALAZAR, who died during a 1970 riot when a police man accidentially fired a tear gas projectile in his face. And many, many more...
It goes without saying that book features the horrifying deaths of Sharon TATE and Nicole BROWN SIMPSON - would a LA true crime book be complete without these infamous cases?
There are many enlightning black and white photos in the book, which nicely accompany the interesting text. Believe me, this book is very compelling reading and will appeal to every true crime buff, Los Angeles citizen or fan of the QUINCY TV series. It is a real page turner.
My main complaint is that the book is really short. It has about 190 pages, but please consider that the authors use double spacing, so you likely finish the book in one evening or two. I was also sometimes disappointed, because I had prefered to be informed about some celebrity deaths in greater detail (most cases are told in two or three pages).
P.S.: Do NOT believe the promotional blurb on the back cover (a quote from HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry FLYNT: "Blanche and Schreiber have finally done the impossible - that even I could not achieve - publish a book with photographs that should be censored.") There are not that many horrifying pictures in the book. If you want to see really shocking true crime photos better buy SHOTS IN THE DARK or the even more disturbing DEATH SCENES.